Crowdsourcing is a short-hand term used to describe putting out a task that would have usually been performed in-house to a large group of people. Sites like Threadless, and tools like the Brooklyn Museum's 'Tag!' game epitomise how crowdsourcing can work beautifully on the web.
Today I noticed two new crowdsourcing projects.
First I saw a tweet from Christchurch Art Gallery, talking about the way their Friends group is geo-tagging their collection. As far as I know this is not being done online, but the ethos holds - a group of people donate their time & knowledge to perform a task that would usually have been done by a staff member (but which might never have been a high enough priority to get on to their work plan).
Of course, volunteer projects inside galleries and museums are nothing new. But it's unusual to hear about them, and for me at least, unusual to see the benefit. I'm guessing the combination of a regionally-focused collection and a supporters group who lives in the region is going to help make this tagging very accurate. You can see the tagged collection items here - each full record has a link to a Google Map at the bottom.
Also today - the V&A launched a beta crowdsourcing site, this one designed to get the public to help identify the most pleasing crops of photos of collection items to use in their online browse.
Obviously this is a lot more complicated than what Christchurch is doing. It's also a little buggy around the edges (my tally fell off part way through my session, so I couldn't see how many images I've completed) and take a few goes to get the hang of - you have to make several choices related to each item before it's 'completed', but the signals that tell you this are hard to pick up.
Unlike the Christchurch example, I wonder how accurate this will be. When I started making choices, I realised I didn't really know what criteria I was meant to be using. Did they want the colour scale in, or out? Did they want as much of the item as possible, or a great detail? In the case of the item below, what *is* better - side on or bird's-eye? What if I thought a crop looked great, but it was better photo than it was a representation of the item? And did anyone agree with the choices I was making?
Hopefully the V&A is following the release early, release often mantra, and will keep tweaking the in response to the feedback they're getting. It's a great concept, and deserves that.